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Colorado > Colorado Community Areas > Leadville Area
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Leadville Area

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Arkansas Headwaters State Park- This park offers some of the highest quality white water opportunities in the country.
Arkansas River- The Arkansas River is a true Western, "big water" experience. Although relatively under fished, it is very popular among rafters.
Leadville Ranger District- The Leadville Ranger District includes some of the most rugged terrain in the state of Colorado. Recreation opportunities abound in this region with access to everything from historic sites to rock climbing.
Turquoise Lake Recreation Area- Turquoise Lake, west of Leadville, covers 1,800 surface acres. Primary recreation activities include camping and fishing.
Twin Lakes Recreation Area- Nestled below Independence Pass, the Twin Lakes area offers spectacular mountain scenery and some excellent outdoor recreation opportunities.

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General Information

Mount Massive from Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway
Copyright: Zander Higbie - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Mount Massive from Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway
Description - Leadville began as a silver, gold, and lead mining town in 1878. It boomed in the early 1880s, when many people became wealthy from the mining investments they made in the vicinity. The true bust of Leadville's mining days came in 1893 when the silver market crashed due to the repeal of the Sherman Silver Act.

Attractions - The Leadville area includes two recreation areas run by the National Forest Service, Twin Lakes Reservoir and Turquoise Lake Reservoir. These areas provide access to fishing, boating, camping, hiking, biking and four-wheel driving.

This area brags of the highest mountain range in the state, the Sawatch Range. It is a mountaineers dream with over ten 14,000 foot peaks within a short distance of each other. The Sawatch Range provides varied terrain for many outdoor activities.

The history enthusiast will enjoy the colorful past of Leadville and the wonderful architecture that remains. There are several opportunities in and out of town to augment your outdoor experiences with those of Leadville's mining history.

Recreation - The Leadville Area provides endless recreation opportunities no matter what outdoor adventures visitors seek. The fishing is great in Twin and Turquoise Lakes and countless mountain streams. The hiking trails are endless including some spectacular high alpine terrain. The biking trails provide terrain to challenge beginners, intermediates and experts. Boating in Twin and Turquoise Lakes will entertain visitors for days.

During the winter months local organizations maintain miles of cross-country ski trails in the area. Snowshoeing and snowmobiling trails provide views of breathtaking scenery. For the visitor interested in alpine skiing, Ski Cooper grooms runs for all abilities.

Climate - With Leadville's high elevation, the climate is relatively cool and precipitation happens often, especially during the summer months. The humidity is very low especially in higher elevations, so drink more water than normal. Its easy to become dehydrated when your active so be sure to carry water. Thunderstorms happen nearly every afternoon in July and August. If you're planning to hike or drive to a summit above 11,000 begin your trip in the early morning. Starting early will bring you down from a high, unprotected place before thunderheads start forming and lightning strikes.

Location - Leadville is located in the Arkansas River Headwaters. It is south of Highway 70 on Highway 91 about 30 miles from Copper Mountain. Highway 24 runs north and south through town and connects it with Buena Vista and Salida to the south. The Sawatch Range of mountains lies to the west of Leadville and the Mosquito Range to the east.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Four of us (and a dog) drove up to the Missouri Gulch trailhead on a Sunday evening in late July 2002 and packed in to just above treeline, arriving in camp about 7:45pm. It's a tough haul up the wooded, switchbacked portion of terrain. Found a great campsite, though. Beyond the obvious (and heavily used) campsite overlooking the creek on the right side of the trail a bit past the abandoned cabin, travel ALMOST to the *No camping/reforestation area* sign on your right. Before this sign, you will see a faint use trail on your left. Follow it uphill, as it switchbacks once through the undergrowth and climbs slightly. The open, meadowed area on this ridge has a great view of the basin, good, flat tent spots, and an established fire ring (good for using stoves in a dry year like this--NO FIRES). The next day we rose quite early and headed up the steep trail on the flanks of Bedford (visible from camp as unbelievable switchbacks), summitted (14,197'), and also visited Oxford. The top portion (nearest Belford) of the trail to Oxford is a bit sketchy in this dry year. San and gravel are quite loose, so trekking poles come in very helpful. Also made summit of Oxford (14,153'). Suggest taking the Elkhead Pass trail down. It's longer, but less loose footing than the ascent trail (CFI trail) up Belford. Makes a beautiful loop, too. Saw surprisingly few people for the summer. Only came in direct contact with about 7-8 other folks, which is unusual for a 14er. Makes a good case for a Monday and an early start, I guess. Saw some other tents and a few folks on the ridgeline of Missouri, across the basin, but not enough direct people contact to ruin the day. Oh--also suggest a bear canister, as camp spots lack good bear hang trees. Who wants to bear hang, anyway? The bear canister was a great invention!

More Information

Contact Information:
Greater Leadville Area Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 861 , Leadville, CO, 80461, Phone: 719-486-3900, Fax: 719-486-8478
, leadville@sni.net

Additional Information:
Colorado Community Areas - Colorado's diverse communities include metropolitan areas, posh ski resorts and rustic mountain towns.
South Central Region - This region lies just east of the Continental Divide, from the middle of the state to the southern border of Colorado. It includes the upper Arkansas River Valley, the San Luis Valley and the Colorado Springs area.

ATV Historical Color Tour - A non-profit event that benifits two charity's in the Buena Vista area
Centralcolorado.com - A site dedicated to central Colorado with links and visitor information.
Fourteenernet - This site provides visitor information for the communities of the Arkansas Headwaters.
Greater Leadville Area Chamber of Commerce - This site was created by the Leadville Chamber of Commerce. It has some detailed information and maps, that are highly recommended to enhance your Leadville experience.


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